Saturday, May 23, 2009

A cheese platter

Not much to say about this, I just like the photo. Obviously taken by someone more talented than myself (thanks Mel). The chilli jam is sold by a wonderful woman at the Market at the Abbotsford Convent, and goes amazingly well with cheese.

Rhubarb Crumble (easy version)

Stewed rhubarb is, in addition to being the easiest thing ever, delicious. To make htis, I simply cleaned and chopped up a bunch of rhubarb, into 1cm or so chunks, and put the whole lot into a pan with a couple tablespoons of raw sugar and the juice of a lemon. Cook it over a medium-low heat until it is soft and melting. The sugar needed will vary between types of rhubarb, and some rhubarb might need a little water added.

For the crumble, you want to take 100gm of cold butter, and the same amount of flour. dice the cold butter finely, and rub it into the flour to form a crumb. Once this is done, mix through a cup of oats, a 1/2 cup of coconut (shredded) and a 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and crumb together a bit more. Spread it onto a baking tray and cook for 20 minutes or so at 180, until everything is browned and crispy.

Drop the rhubarb into a serving bowl, cover liberally with crumble mix, and top with cream/yoghurt/icecream/whatever.

Nasu Dengaku

It turns out that this delicious Japanese treat is simple as all hell to make. I'm not such a fan of the deep frying, so rather than cooking eggplant in that way, I simply halved them, brushed them with a little oil (rice bran oil, to be exact) and baked them at 200c until they were melting to pieces, half an hour or so (although this will depend on the size of the eggplant).

To make the miso topping stuff, Take a cup of dashi broth, a couple big tablespoons of white miso paste, good splash of Mirin, a tablespoon of sugar, and a teaspoon of cornflour, and simmer the mixed ingredients until they are thickening.

Top the melty eggplant with the sauce, and return to the oven for a few minutes to crisp up. Crank the heat as high as possible for this portion of the cooking. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top to serve. You should be able to 'cut' them with chopsticks, if they are cooked enough.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Scottish bread rolls, actually pretty easy to make. Recipe incoming when I can find the book I got it from.


Lamb! With garlic and a Moroccan type spice mix, stir fried. Capsicum and courgette sticks in there, and onion in the base. yum.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kangaroo Ragout!

Take a bunch of kangaroo, a bit of wine, a lot of garlic and onion, and some stock. Cook the kangaroo until it is falling to pieces on a fork, and the sauce in which it has cooked has reduced to a delicious silky texture. Put this delicious combination on top of freshly cooked Penne pasta, cooked al dente, and top with flat leaf parsley and goats cheese. Yum!

I could probably make up a recipe if anyone was interested.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fried Banana in Honey and Panko Breadcrumbs

This one worked better than I had any right to expect. you slice up your banana into quarters, cut once along the length and then halve those, to leave long bits as you see in the photo. Dip into honey, or brush honey onto them, as you prefer, and dip the honeyed banana into panko breadcrumbs to make a thin coating. Heat some butter (a decent chunk, if you are willing) in a frying pan, and cook the bananas, both sides, until hot and beginning to go gooey, might take 5 minutes or so. Don't have the pan too hot or things will burn.

My Bad

I got sidetracked for a while. Finding the camera after cooking a meal was too hard, or uploading photos I did take was too hard, or something. I'll try to be better in future.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hellenic Republic

Went to Hellenic Republic on Sunday evening for a quick dinner. Quick because we booked on Friday, and the only times available were 5:30 or 9:30, with the 5:30 time requiring us to be out by 7. We chose to go with that, and found that it was perfectly fine.

4 people for dinner, and we all tend to share the meals, because it is terrible when someone insists on eating all of the best dish. No such problem here, everything was good. We had Saganaki and olives, taramasalata, Florinis Piperies, an eggplant based dip that wasn't baba ganoush, and some pita breads. the taramasalata and Saganaki were the standouts of these. Fried cheese is amazing at the worst of times, and with tiny peppered figs liberally adorning it, this was far from the worst of times.

We got a mixed grill of lamb and chicken, the baked lamb pasta dish, and some grilled octopus for mains. We had intended to order two of the lamb, but the waitress misheard. Turns out that that was a good thing, as that dish was massive. It arrives in its own casserole dish, and split four ways provided us all with a pleasant amount. It was deliciously rich and creamy. The octopus was perfectly cooked, the only complaint being that perhaps there was too little of it. Part of that issue arises from the small dish on which it is served, making the impression of it small compared to other mains. Both the lamb and chicken off the spit were delicious and tasty, the lamb falling to pieces effortlessly in the mouth and with a wonderful flavour.

When we ordered mains the waitress recommended we get salads with them, which turned out to be an excellent idea, we needed something to counter the intensity of the meat. A village salad and a cracked wheat salad split perfectly well between us, and were invaluable as a complement to the rest of the dishes.

We had also been told (by the power of the internet) that desserts were great here. Very much the case. A serving of Loukomades provided an absurd amount of food, nice light doughnuts drizzled in very tasty honey and walnuts. The semolina cakes were great too, and probably the only dessert we tried that didn't leave us wondering how anyone could possibly finish one of these by themselves. 2 at our table ordered the kataifi with cherries and mastic icecream, which tasted absolutely amazing, but again was more than any of us were prepared to eat.

While the food overall was excellent, the wine list was lacking, we dont want to spend huge amounts on wine, and there was little to speak of between the house wines and the $50+ bottles. Didn't think to check if it is byo, but that would be a good option.

For around fifty dollars a head, this is a great place to get good food, but it reinforces in my mind that Akita, the japanese restaurant in North melbourne, is the benchmark for good dining in this city. The general consensus was that Hellenic Republic just did not live up to the expectaions Akita gives us (it is a favourite of us all).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Quick Miso and Vegetables

Felt like something healthy Wednesday night, so threw some dashi and miso paste together with a little tofu, some sliced mushrooms, and spring onions. Very tasty, very simple. My partner cooked for me Thursday, and it would be bad form to take photos of her work without permission, but suffice it to say that she makes a wonderful bolognese with kangaroo mince and freshly made pasta.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Venison Chorizo and Roast Potatoes

Apparently it was Shrove Tuesday last night. My partner tells me that it is an excuse to have delicious food, so we do. We had some venison chorizo from, which we had picked up at the farmers market at the Collingwood Children's Farm. I knew these would be amazing, even just on their own. I also had some duck fat lying around, that I reserved from a Thai red curry I made a while back. Bought some Dutch Creams to roast in it.

Dutch creams are a nice roasting potato, yellow flesh, good even size, and they crisp up nicely. I bought 5 of them, enough for a dinner for two and a great pile left over. Dice them up into 2cm cubes or so, and par cook them by adding them to boiling water, waiting for it to re-boil, then draining them. Toss them through the duck fat and add a half dozen (or more, depending on how much you like garlic, I usually go for a dozen) roughly torn cloves of garlic. Add a sprinkling of sea salt (I am constantly amazed at how much nicer Maldon is than any of its competitors) and some rosemary, and toss them thoroughly again.

They need 30-40 minutes in a hot oven, 220c, with the fan going if you have it. I like mine on the crispy side, so they will be edible well before then. Shake the pan every 10 mins or so during cooking.

We also had some nice fresh sweetcorn and green beans, to round off the meal.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mini Almond Cookies

What meal is complete without a little something sweet to finish it off? I saw this recipe over at, and I thought I would give them a try. She calls them tv snacks, and they are like miniature quickly cooked shortbreads, with almond meal instead of semolina or whatever you normally use. Damn good. I found they needed a little more butter than her recipe said, 120gm or so instead of 100, but that was probably because I used a coarse almond meal instead of smashing the blanched almonds myself. I also used salty butter, and left out the salt she recommends, as I had no unsalted to hand. All this means my recipe is a lot more streamlined, but I fully intend to make them per the original recipe at some stage, so as to do a comparison.

Little Almond Biscuits

100g almond meal
100g sugar
140g plain flour
100g cold butter, diced (a little more if required to get the texture right)

180 degree oven.

Mix the sugar and almonds together, set aside.

Put the flour in a food processor and, with the motor running, drop in the pieces of cold butter. As soon as all the pieces are in, switch to pulse mode and pulse just until the mixture looks sandy. Add the nut-sugar mixture and pulse until the dough begins to clump.

Tear off cherry sized chunks of dough, roll and flatten a little, do not worry about making them perfectly round or even.. Squash them onto baking trays with a cm or so gap between each one.
They need 10 minutes cooking. You will have split them over 2 trays, given the quantity, so switch the trays in the oven halfway through the cooking process. They should be starting to brown, and will still be soft. Cool for a couple minutes on the trays, and then move to a rack to finish cooling.

Feijoa Vodka

Of course, we needed something refreshing to drink with the meal, so i grabbed some mint from the garden just to change up the flavour of that old standby, feijoa vodka and apple juice, a little. Half a lime, a handful of bruised mint, a shot or two of 42 Feijoa, and twice as much cloudy apple juice, all stirred over a generous amount of ice, long cold and delicious.

Black Bean and Chorizo. Yum.

So on Saturday I made a black bean stew with chorizo and a nice little chilli kick to it. Being me, I made far too much of it, and we had it on Sunday evening as well, although the second time around we dropped it into tortillas, which also worked amazingly well. Lots of hot sauce and some nice fresh salad type things, delicious.

Chorizo and Black Beans

2 Chorizo, hot
150gm smoky bacon
6 tomatoes
2 medium brown onions
Bulb of garlic
2 cups dry black beans
6 hot peppers/jalapenos/chipotle
ground cumin
ground coriander
chilli flakes/powder
1 cup rice (wild/brown is especially good)
Beef/chicken stock, 8 cups
Fresh coriander (garnish)
Limes (garnish)

Rinse black beans. Soak in cold water for 6-8 hours, drain, rinse. The beans should have approximately doubled to 4 cups worth. Put these in a large pot, and add 8 cups water/stock (beef or chicken), bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer, and let cook for 2 hours.

As the beans simmer, coarsely chop the onions and garlic, and fry off with some paprika, until soft. Add to the bean/water mix. Add a couple teaspoons each of ground cumin, coriander, and chilli to the water/stock.

Quarter the tomatoes and place in a roasting pan with a little oil, cook in moderate to hot oven until melting, 20 mins or so. Quarter chorizo lengthways, then cut into smallish chunks, 1cm long. Add with diced bacon and the hot peppers to a frying pan and cook for 5-10 minutes.

After the beans have been cooking for an hour and a half, add rice, tomatoes, meat and peppers to the mix, stir well. You will need to stir regularly now, as the water boils off. In about half an hour, the rice should be done, and the dish ready to serve. Garnish with lime and coriander and enjoy. If the mixture gets too dry, add small amounts of boiling water to keep it liquid until the rice is cooked.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hairy Crab

The Japanese do a whole bunch of things right, not least of which is catching and devouring these (not so) little beauties. The wrong comes when you factor in the 60 yen to the dollar exchange rate and realise that you are looking at 240-260 dollars of crab. Of course, you can always get some steamed and shredded over rice for a couple hundred yen, at the market in Sapporo, and I highly recommend that you do, if you ever happen to be in the area.